Lekhraj Khubchand Kripalani (also transliterated as Kripilani), better known as Dada Lekhraj (1876-January 18, 1969), was the founder of the Brahma Kumaris movement. He is also revered as Brahma Baba among his followers.
Originally from Hyderabad, Sindh, Dada Lekhraj became a multimillionaire through dealing in diamonds. His business was based in Calcutta, and centered around supplying diamonds and jewels to royal families.
In his late sixties, Dada Lekhraj reportedly had visions, which he interpreted as instructions from a supreme being. In 1932, Dada Lekhraj retired from his business in Calcutta, returned to Hyderabad in Sindh and turned to spirituality. A follower of the Vaishnavite Vallabhacharya sect and member of the exogamous Bhaiband community, Dada Lekhraj is said to have had 12 gurus.
Dada Lekhraj started preaching and conducted satsang, which attracted several people, most of them wealthy women from his community. Some of his followers believed that a spiritual being (Shiva) entered in his body and spoke through him.
In 1937, Dada Lekhraj named some of his followers to a managing committee, and transferred his fortune to the committee. This committee, known as Om Mandali (or Om Mandli) was the nucleus of the Brahma Kumaris. Several women joined Om Mandali, and contributed their wealth to the association. Dada Lekhraj preached Bhagavad Gita to his followers and performed Ras Lila with them.
The Sindhi community reacted unfavorably to Lekhraj's movement, as many young Sindhi women attended his ashram, and the movement involved a vow of celibacy. Dada Lekhraj had described sex as "poison", "criminal assault", and "the gateway to hell". The main complaint was that Om Mandli was preaching celibacy to unmarried girls and married women.
Organizations like the Indian National Congress and Arya Samaj denounced Om Mandali as disturber of family peace. Some of the Brahma Kumari wives were mistreated by their families, and Lekhraj was accused of sorcery and lechery. He was also accused of forming a cult and controlling his community through the art of hypnotism; children were removed from his school.
To avoid persecution, legal actions and opposition from family members of his followers, Dada Lekhraj moved his followers from Hyderabad to Karachi, where they settled in a highly structured ashram. The Anti-Om Mandli Committee that had opposed the group in Hyderabad followed them. On January 18, 1939, the mothers of two girls aged 12 and 13 filed an application against Om Mandali, in the Court of the Additional Magistrate in Karachi. The women, from Hyderabad, stated that their daughters were wrongfully being detained at the Om Mandali in Karachi. The court ordered the girls to be sent to their mothers. Om Radhe of the Om Mandali appealed against the decision in the High Court, where the decision was upheld. Later, Hari's parents were persuaded to let their daughter stay at the Om Mandali.
Several Hindus continued their protests against Om Mandali. Some Hindu members of the Sindh Assembly threatened to resign unless the Om Mandali was finally outlawed. Finally, the Sindh Government used the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1908 to declare the Om Mandali as an unlawful association. Under further pressure from the Hindu leaders in the Assembly, the Government also ordered the Om Mandali to close and vacate its premises. The Om Mandali successfully appealed against the Government order in the court.
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- Walliss, John (October 1999). "From World Rejection to Ambivalence: the Development of Millenarianism in the Brahma Kumaris". Journal of Contemporary Religion 14 (3): 375-85.
- The Divine Descent of God. Prajapita rahma Kumaris Ishawariya Vishwa Vidyalaya. Retrieved on 2007-07-18.
- Hardy, Hardayal (1984). Struggles and Sorrows: The Personal Testimony of a Chief Justice. Vikas Publishing House, 37-39. ISBN 0706925637.
- Chryssides, George D. (2001). Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements. Scarecrow Press, 35-36.
- Barrett, David V (2001). The New Believers: A Survey of Sects, Cults and Alternative Religions. Cassell & Co.. ISBN 978-0304355921. “'sex is an expression of 'body-consciousness' and leads to the other vices', probably stems in part from the origins of the movement in the social conditions of the 1930s India when women had to submit to their husbands.”
- Radhe, Brahma-Kumari (1939). Is this justice?: Being an account of the founding of the Om Mandli & the Om Nivas and their suppression, by application of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1908. Pharmacy Printing Press, 35-36.
- Howell, Julia Day (2005). Peter Clarke: Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements. Routledge, 63-64. ISBN 978-0415267076. “The call for women brahmins (i.e. kumaris or 'daughters') to remain celibate or chaste in marriage inverted prevailing social expectations that such renunciation was proper only for men and that the disposal of women's sexuality should remain with their fathers and husbands. The 'Anti-Om Mandali Committee' formed by outraged male family members violently persecuted Brahma Baba's group, prompting their flight to Karachi and withdrawal from society. Intense world rejection gradually eased after partition in 1947, when the BKs moved from Pakistan to Mt Abu”
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- Chander, B. K Jagdish (1981). Adi Dev: The first man. B.K. Raja Yoga Center for the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University.